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Couple's murderer jailed in `Ouija board' retrial

Saturday 17 December 1994 00:02 GMT

A unique case in which a double killer won the right to a retrial after it emerged that jurors at the first hearing dabbled with a Ouija board ended yesterday with the fresh jury convicting him of murdering a newly wed couple.

Stephen Young, 35, an insurance broker, was given two life sentences for the "horrific" shootings of Harry and Nicola Fuller at their cottage in Wadhurst, East Sussex, in February last year.

Young was still protesting his innocence as he was led to the cells, shouting to Mr Justice Blofeld: "I did not do it, my Lord.'' Relatives of his victims shouted back: "You did it all right, you bugger - rot.''

The judge told Young: ``The jury has convicted you of terrible and horrible offences - two human beings were shot down.

"The circumstances relating to the deaths are totally horrific. The precise circumstances relating to the death of Nicola will remain in everyone's mind for years to come."

The Fullers were murdered deliberately and cold-bloodedly, Michael Lawson QC, for the prosecution, had told the court. Mr Fuller, 45, a car dealer, was killed by a single bullet in the back. His 27-year-old wife died from a combination of four separate shots - the final bullet was fired into her head as she tried to make a 999 call.

The telephone operator thought her attempts to speak through her splintered jaw were noises made by children playing on the line and did not re-route her call to police.

Young had debts estimated at £100,000 and his creditors were closing in. Mr Fuller had about £13,000 in the house days before he was shot.

"He dealt in cash and often had a wad of notes on him or even a briefcase full of money. He had people who would shun him and people who disliked him intensely," Mr Lawson said.

"Nicola was a different person altogether - younger, quieter and more sensitive.''

Police searched the house after the killings but found no substantial sums of money, only £80 hidden under a sofa and £130 in a shoe.

Young admitted that he had been at the murder scene but said he found the couple dead and fled, fearing for his life.

The Court of Appeal quashed Young's convictions when it became known that some jurors at the original trial used a Ouija board after a drinking session during an overnight hotel stay.

Outside court the dead man's brother, Tom Fuller, said the second trial was a terrible ordeal for the family, particularly his elderly parents.

Nicola Fuller's father Michael Johnson said: "We are very relieved at the verdict. It has been 22 months and now at last we can put Nicola and Harry to rest in peace."

He said he hoped the House of Lords would now overturn the Court of Appeal's decision to quash the first trial and order a retrial. "It opened a legal minefield," he said.

The first jury's verdict was correct and it was wrong that jurors were questioned about their deliberations, he said.

Mr and Mrs Johnson were interrupted by the head of police at the Old Bailey, Chief Inspector Barry Smith, who told them they could not conduct interviews within the precincts of the court. After an altercation the Johnsons left to recover in the Victim Support suite.

The judge commended the police team, led by Detective Chief Superintendent Graham Hill, for its hard work in solving the crime.

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